Northwest welcome: Valley Bluegrass Festival headliners hail from points across the country

Contributed photo
Dumas, Luquette & Knapp will headline the Lewis Clark Bluegrass Organization’s ninth annual festival.
They call it Pickin’ on the Clearwater, and that’s what both entertainers and fans will be doing at this weekend’s ninth annual Valley Bluegrass Festival in Orofino.

Dumas, Luquette & Knapp, headliner for the Lewis Clark Bluegrass Organization’s ninth annual festival, won’t just close out the concerts Friday and Saturday nights; its members will share their expertise during daytime workshops.

Nick Dumas, of Nick Dumas & Branchline, grew up in Brier, Wash., north of Seattle, but calls Sturgeon Bay, Wis., home now. The International Bluegrass Music Award-winning and Grammy-nominated musician joins with similarly decorated artists Chris Luquette and Andrew Knapp a few times a year to play shows like this weekend’s.

Luquette, now working out of New York City, and Knapp, who remains in the Northwest with Seattle-based band The Warren G. Hardings, also are from the greater Seattle area, Dumas said, and the three relish playing together in the corner of the country where they got their starts.

“It’s a treat for us to get out West again,” Dumas said.

Festivalgoers can expect vocal tunes and instrumentals that fall between the traditional and progressive jam grass genres when the group takes the stage.

“We like to keep it somewhere in the middle with this particular trio,” Dumas said, noting the group puts its own, modern twist on some tunes “without getting too far from the traditional bluegrass realm.”

The workshops, a common feature of bluegrass festivals across the country, run from
10-11 a.m. Saturday, with each band member focused on his respective instrument: Dumas on mandolin, Luquette on guitar and Knapp on bass.

Dumas said he usually starts with a Q&A, about his style, his playing and how he learned, sometimes moving into a specific topic, depending on the workshop participants’ interests.

“I love it because I actually teach mandolin lessons for a living, even more than I tour on the road,” he said. “(I) love showing people how it’s done — at least the best I can.”

With somewhere around 200 national and international festivals under his belt, his favorites are in the Northwest, Dumas said, where audiences are “so enthusiastic and appreciative of the music, and they’re not afraid to show it.”

“It helps us have a lot more fun, too,” he said.

If You Go
What: Valley Bluegrass Festival: Pickin’ on the Clearwater
When: Thursday-Sunday (see schedule at right).
Where: Clearwater County Fairgrounds, 101 Michigan Ave., Orofino.
Tickets: $20-$35 and free for children 15 and younger with a paying adult at lewisclarkbluegrass.com/valleybluegrassfestival.

Stone (she/her) can be reached at mstone@inland360.com.

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